Keeping children safe should be main priority during the holidays | Western Cape Government


Keeping children safe should be main priority during the holidays

13 December 2023

Schools are closing today and the holiday season has begun for many families. While this is a joyful period, there are many risks to be aware of, especially for parents and caregivers.

“We call on all parents and caregivers to always keep an eye on your children when out in public spaces. Be especially vigilant when you are at the beach or in a shopping mall. Unfortunately, every year, we see children being forgotten at a beach after a day out, resulting in distress and trauma for them. This is unacceptable as it is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to ensure minors in their groups are always under a watchful eye while at the beach or around a body of water, so you can leave together safely,” says Provincial Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.

“The Western Cape Department of Social Development’s (DSD) social workers – in partnership with municipalities like the City of Cape Town – provide support and ensure that these children are safely placed until they can be reunited with their families.”

This is especially true on holidays like 26 December and New Year’s Eve where the public often enjoy the day on our beaches. Between 31 December 2022 and 02 January 2023, at least 240 children were separated from their families in high-volume areas like Monwabisi, Mnandi, Camps Bay, Strandfontein, Muizenberg and Strand beaches.

DSD social workers and City of Cape Town staff were able to reunite most of the young ones with their families on the same day, but children who were not collected timeously had to be placed in places of safety. As per legislation, the parents/guardians had to follow legal processes to be reunified with their children.

If caregivers get separated from children for whatever reason in a public space, please approach a law enforcement officer or South African Police Services (SAPS) member immediately for assistance.

“DSD staff and partner NGOs will still be hard at work while many people are enjoying the festivities. Violence, abuse, and neglect unfortunately, do not take a break over the holidays. That is why I am so thankful to the dedicated social service professionals who will be on duty to ensure the dignity, wellbeing, and protection of the vulnerable. As ordinary citizens, we can also do our part and report any wrongdoing we may see. If you wish to help a child in need and have the resources to do so, you could become an emergency or safety parent,” adds Western Cape Minister Fernandez.

A safety parent is a fit and proper person, over the age of 18 years, who takes temporary care of no more than six children, except where the children are siblings.

If you have a passion to help children and are interested in partnering with the Department of Social Development by opening your home to care and safeguard vulnerable children, you can volunteer to become a safety parent.

More information can be found here:

NGOs also do their own recruitment for safety parents:

  • BADISA head office: 021 957 7130
  • ACVV head office: 021 461 7437
  • Child Welfare SA: 087 822 1516
  • Cape Town Child Welfare: 021 461 7437

Other helpful contact numbers:

Childline: 116

Stop Gender-Based Violence helpline: 0800 150 150

SAPS: 08600 10111

Report any abuse of children, women, the elderly, or any other vulnerable person to the Department of Social Development’s toll-free number: 0800 220 250.

Department of Social Development Email: or visit your nearest DSD office, or the department’s website:

Media Enquiries: 

Monique Mortlock-Malgas
Spokesperson to MEC Sharna Fernandez

Department of Social Development